BTX PCs hit local shores

Balanced Technology Extended (BTX) form factor PCs have arrived, after Australian-owned system builder, Hallmark Computer International, claimed it had launched the first local product this month.

The Melbourne-based company has based its first model on an Intel 915G chipset-based Gigabyte board.

"We've been working with a range of partners since July last year on this technology," Hallmark chief technology officer, Phillip McIntosh, said. "[The Gigabyte boards] are a microBTX board, based on open standards. We import them ourselves."

BTX has been tipped to supersede the ATX form factor due to improved layout and heat and noise reduction. Its design relocates many sockets and slots on the motherboard for a more efficient cooling system.

Hallmark's BTX PC, the Viewmaster Advantage 6000, employs an Intel P4 530 CPU. The vendor has supported the new design for its chips. However AMD CPUs do not require BTX.

Hallmark has imported BTX compatible cases from Taiwanese vendor, Yeong Yang, for the new product.

The 6000 series will later extend to several BTX models, but the company has no plans to throw out ATX in a hurry.

"There are significant advantages [of BTX], but we're not hedging our bets on it," McIntosh said.

"It is up to the market whether they'll adopt it. But given the amount of attention we've received today it seems they will."

McIntosh said the BTX machine was not aimed solely at either business or consumer markets.

"Certainly once businesses see it, they will see the advantages [of the low noise levels] in their environment," he said. "But we expect widescale adoption."

The company was charging dealers about 10 per cent more for the BTX PC than the comparable ATX configuration, he said.

Altech Computers, local supplier of Shuttle BTX motherboards, were unaware of any other BTX PCs available in the local market. The distributor would release its first BTX PC in March, a spokesperson said.

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